The Black Eyed Peas: Hip-Hop ‘Future’ Stars...

Musical genres, just as anything in life, matures and evolves as time passes by.  Your grandfather’s metal sounds much different than the metal of today.  Great-aunt Ida’s R&B may not be recognized as R&B is played on the radio in the 2010’s.  as the times change, so does music.  And one group that is the very evidence of that is the Black Eyed Peas. The Black Eyed Peas trace their beginnings all the way back to 1988.  Back then, eight-graders William Adams (will.i.am aka Will 1X) and Allan Pineda (apl.de.ap) met and begun performing rap music in the greater Los Angeles area.  Four years later the two were signed to Easy-E’s Ruthless Records on the recommendation of a nephew of the gangsta rap icon manager’s nephew.  Will.i.am and apl.de.ap recruited friends Dante Santiag, Mookie Mook, and DJ Motiv8 (aka Monroe Walker)o and named the group ATBAN Klann (ATBAN was an acronym meaning A Tribe Beyond A Nation).  They were slated to released their debut album, Grass Roots, in October 1992 but this never occurred due to the death of Easy-E.  Grass Roots was the only album recorded by ATBAN Klann and they were subsequently released for Ruthless Records. In 1995 the group renamed themselves Black Eyed Pods which then became Black Eyed Peas.  Jaime Gomez (Taboo) would replace Santiago.  Despite not being a part of the band, he’s still close with them, and was featured in their song “Dum Diddly”.  Kim Hill would provide backup vocals for the group.  Differentiating from the traditional gangsta rap scene prominent in the Los Angeles hip-hop scene at the time, the Black Eyed Peas had unique musical style and image for the LA area.  They did not wear the traditional gangsta rap uniform...

Sonata Artica: Finnish Power Metal proprietors...

Sonata Artica is a Finnish power metal band that blends elements of symphonic metal, hard rock and progressive.  The band consists of singer, keyboardist and songwriter Tony Kakko, guitarist Elias Viljanen, bass guitarist Marko Paasikoski, keyboardist and keytarist Henrik Klingenberg, and drummer Tommy Portimo.  They originally formed in late 1995 as Tricky Beans, which later became Tricky Means.  Early in their career they released three unsuccessful hard rock demos.  After this failure, Paasikoski (then a second guitarist) and original bassist Pentti Peura left the band.  Tricky Means decided to continue as a group despite these departures, choosing to go on with just one guitarist and recruiting Janne Kivilahti to replace Peura.  It was at this time that the band decided to drop the Tricky Means moniker and adopt the name of Sonata Artica. During all these changes the band worked on changing their sound from 1997 through 1999.  The band adopted a sound that heavily emphasized keyboard melodies and an easily distinguishable rhythm line that was carried by both bass and guitar.  This was a stark contrast to previous hard rock sound.  After the name, musical style and lineup changes, Sonata Artica recorded a demo entitled FullMoon, their first metal recording.  A friend of the band sent the demo to Spinefarm records with soon gained the band a record deal. In late 1999, the band released their debut album, Ecliptica.  They album had mixed reviews.  Allmusic states that “Sonata Arctica continue the tradition of their Finnish contemporaries, like Stratovarius… Too bad that they just re-sample way too much of the others in their genre. What Sonata Arctica have [sic] to offer is just a bunch of interesting solos and melodies, but as a whole Ecliptica fails completely. The songs lack diversity, and it is almost impossible to listen...

The Ramones: ‘Four’ Fathers of Punk...

Of the countless genres in music, no group of genres may be as well respected and loved world-wide than those that fall over the broad umbrella of rock-n-roll.  Of the genres that belong to rock-n-roll, and beyond, few genres are as big as punk.  Throughout the years punk rock has giving the world memorable songs my memorable musicians: Social Distortion, Bad Religion, Green Day, MC5, Pennywise, and Rancid.  All of the aforementioned bands have carved their musical niches in many subgenres ranging from garage to hardcore to psychobilly and more; but they all fall under the parent category of punk.  So, you may ask, who is considered the fathers of punk?  Unlike many other genres in music, the answer to this question is clear.  The fathers of punk or none other than the legendary Queens, NY group The Ramones. John Cummings and Thomas Erdelyi, who had both been in a garage band from 1966-1967 while attending Forest Hills High School in Queens, New York City, NY, met and became friends with Douglas Colvin, recently moved from Germany, and Jeffry Hyman. When Cummings and Colvin requested Hyman to join a band with the in 1974 The Ramones began to take shape.  The initial lineup featured Colvin on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, Cummings on lead guitar, and Hyman on drums. Colvin soon switched from rhythm guitar to bass.  Inspired by Paul McCartney’s pseudonym of Paul Ramon during his Silver Beatles days, Colvin was the first to adopt the name “Ramone”, calling himself Dee Dee Ramone.  Dee Dee convinced the other members to take on the name and came up with the idea of calling the band the Ramones. Hyman and Cummings became Joey Ramone and Johnny Ramone, respectively. Dee Dee soon...

System of a Down: Armenian Metal Proprietors...

One thing about popular music is that it is catchy.  The messages are often simple and fun.  The music more of the bubble gum variety rather than metal.  And pop music rarely, if ever, contains politically charged and controversial lyrical content and ideas.  Pop music almost always is settled into well defined genres as well.  Justin Bieber is undoubtedly R&B.  Lil’ Wayne is squarely rap/hip-hop.  Nickleback is assuredly alternative rock.  Shania Twain is unmistakably country.  But there are always exceptions to every rule.  System of a Down is the exception to these rules. They dated their roots back to 1992 in a band called Soil, which featured Serj Tankian on vocals and keyboards, Daron Malakian on vocals and guitar, Dave Hakopyan (who later played in The Apex Theory/Mt. Helium) on bass and Domingo “Dingo” Laranio on drums.  Soil hired Shavo Odajian to be there manager and he eventually joined the band as a rhythm guitarist.   In 1994, after only one live show, and one jam session recording, Hakopyan and Laranio left the band, feeling that it was not going anywhere. After Soil, Malakin, Tankian and Odajian formed System of a Down (a.k.a. SOAD or simply System).  Odajian switched from guitar to bass and the band hired Velvet Hammer Music and Management Group to handle their managerial duties.  Ontronik “Andy” Khachaturian was recruited to play the drums; he, along with System’s other members, were alumni of Rose and AlexPilibosArmenianSchool.  System of a Down made two demo tapes that never saw commercial release, Untitled 1995 Demo Tape and 1996’s Demo Tape 2.  These tapes were released to the masses via file sharing networks.  In 1997, they released final demo tape, Demo Tape 3.  In mid 1997, drummer Khachaturian left the band because...

Slayer: Trash Metal Gods...

Not many bands came lay the claim that they were at the forefront of a musical movement.  Music is more often imitated rather than innovated.  In the copy-cat profession of songwriting, the majority of music creators, distributors and performers would rather stick with their current time’s proven blueprint for success, instead of boldly forging a sound of their own or expanding on a fresh, new genre.  It is clear why so many songs are created in this fashion; the allure of the almighty dollar.  Many musical acts resign genuine personal creativity in order to ensure that the bottom line is as lucrative as possible.  Not all bands and musical acts are as such.  Count trash metal behemoths Slayer as on of those acts. In 1981 guitarist Kerry King met drummer Dave Lombardo.  Both musicians shared the same taste in music and aspirations for a professional career.  Soon after, King recruited guitarist Jeff Hanneman and bassist Tom Araya to the fold.  Araya had played previously with King in a band that went by the names Quit, and formerly, Tradewinds.  The earliest incarnation of the band played Iron Maiden and Judas Priest songs and relied on a Satanic influenced image for early shows.  When seeing Slayer at a show at Anaheim’s Woodstock Club, former music journalist and founder of Metal Blade Records Brian Slagel was impressed and asked Slayer to record an original song backstage to the show for his Metal Massacre III compilation album.  Slayer recorded “Aggressive Perfector” for the record and was eventually signed to Metal Blade Records. The self-financed debut album, Show No Mercy, was released in December 1983.  it generated a good underground buzz for Slayer, which the band took advantage of by embarking its first national...